Reviewed on this page:
Reclamando Nuestro Espacio - Personal Ideal -
La Misma Pluma - Original - Búscame - Sellos De Mi ADN
The Hot New Thing in mid-90s salsa, and though the Venezuelan band's name and the youth of the singers may put you
in mind of Menudo, their records are actually quite good. Most of the tunes are written by their
Svengali, Porfi Baloa, who also produces and plays keyboards and bass. The group - colloquially known as "Los Adolescentes" - rapidly ran out of steam after
the defection of lead singer Wilmer Lozano, but Baloa put together a new crop of youngsters for a 2005 comeback.
Wilmer Lozano, Williams Lozano, Armando Guiñan, Charly Villegas, all vocals;
Porfi Baloa, keyboards, bass, producer, musical director, main songwriter. Wilmer left, 1998, replaced by
Sócrates Cariaco. Group reformed in 2005 with new members Angel Delgado, Oscar Arriaga, Everson Hernández and
Reclamando Nuestro Espacio (1995)
The source of the insanely catchy hit "Anhelo," sung by Wilmer Lozano, which starts as a ballad and kicks into midtempo
salsa. Overall, this debut is slower-paced than the followups, with some generic love songs ("Cruel Decisión"),
but the tunes and arrangements are solidly entertaining, with powerful horns and a spare, unmuddled sound.
Also, Baloa allows himself some fun on piano, with a classical flourish here
("No Puedo Ser Tu Amigo") and a jazz lick there ("Tu Serás"). Since the other releases have more variety and
individuality, they're a better place to start, but this isn't a bad buy.
Persona Ideal (1997)
Though there's nothing as striking as "Anhelo," there are plenty of solid
tunes with an unusual amount of variety: the title track (another
hit single) opens with a neoclassical riff; "Mi Error" sounds like a
modernized bolero; "Arrepentida" swings furiously, like Eddie
Palmieri in a good mood; "Dame Un Poco Más" is a cleverly-arranged
NY salsa ballad. Usually they hit the mark squarely, and even when the
experiments don't quite come
off, like the Spanish-style breaks on "Clase Social," it's interesting.
Throughout Baloa's arrangements feature prominent, Willie
Colón-style horns, a welcome change from the afraid-to-offend
sound that dominates the airwaves these days. They have four lead singers, and Wilmer Lozano is the only
one with a really good voice, begging the question of when he was going
to strike out on his own.
La Misma Pluma (1998)
Indeed, within a year Wilmer was out of the band, and the liner notes no longer indicate who sings lead on each track,
presumably to prevent further swelled heads. Again Baloa wrote most of the material (though new singer Sócrates Cariaco
wrote "Comencemos Hoy"), again the tunes are solid, and again the arrangements are horn-heavy powerhouse salsa recalling the
Seventies. There are several nice touches: the classical quotes in "Mirame," the witty breakdown at the end of "Si Te Marchas
(Voy A Llorar)." The only embarrassment is the campy "Alegria."
In short, though there is no obvious hit single this is another consistently enjoyable album.
There are warning signs, though: there's less stylistic variety than on the previous release, both the opening "Huellas" and
"Mirame" have melodies recalling "Persona Ideal," and none of the vocalists can do more than simply carry a tune. (DBW)
Original (Wilmer Lozano: 2001)
Not really, no.
Produced by Tomas "Monchy" Bernal, who arranged most of the tunes and wrote three of them ("Se Me Pasó La Mano"). Bernal is a punchy, creative bassist ("Sueño Guaireño"), and his tunes are carefully constructed and well recorded ("Me Marcharé").
But he has no fresh ideas - closest is the mellow jazz guitar on "Solo Tú - or notable melodies, and lacks the idiosyncratic touches and dramatic tension and release of Baloa's work.
So in the end, this becomes a routine salsa outing Lozano's vocals can't save despite his best efforts ("Igual Que Yo").
After a few years off, Baloa put together a new version of the band, and wrote a new batch of tunes in the same classic salsa-plus-romantic vocals mold ("Se Acabó El Amor," also included in a ranchera version).
He's firmly in charge: producing, writing all but one tune ("Amor Amargo"), playing keyboards - including a slick electric piano solo on "Cuerpo Sin Alma" - and bass, and even singing backup.
The formula is getting creaky - the melodies are a bit less remarkable, the Willie Colón borrowings are a bit more blatant ("Ponte Pila"; "Paco" with nods to "Plastico") - but by and large it still works ("Aquel Lugar"). And some growth is exhibited on the title track, a ballad with a sophisticated string arrangement.
The singers are mostly interchangeable, except for the grotesque vocals on "Mentirosa," a merengue derived from Olga Tañón's "Mentiroso."
360 Degrees (2006)
I'm not convinced this was an actual release but I'm listing it here while I try to figure it out.
Sellos De Mi ADN (2009)
This time out, Baloa revs up the retro salsa ("Bailando") but mostly forgets about the romantic vocals that put the group on the map in the first place. The only exception is "Confianza," which is a highlight though nowhere near the stratosphere occupied by "Anhelo." So basically the record sounds like Grupo Niche with sweeter vocal harmonies ("Spanish Girl"). Not that that's a bad thing ("Rompe Corazón"), but without enough distinguishing features or killer hooks the disc tends to recede into the background. Again there's one merengue ("Si No Me Amas").
Dame un poco más.